I mail a package ahead to myself?
and this is fairly common. Many do it after starting
out to lighten their load; others may do it with
aforethought, sending a package of 'city clothes'
ahead to Santiago. The service in Spain, called
lista de correos, is the same as poste restante
or, in the U.S., general delivery. You can buy a
box at the correos (post office). Packages are addressed:
name with your surname first and in capital letters
and underlined or boxed
city with postal code and province (see below for
Correos' general policy is to hold a package for
14 days after which they will return it to the city
of origin. Needless to say that would be very bad
news! You might write "PEREGRINO" boldly
on the box and you might also add "Retener
en lista de correos hasta el <day> de <month>"
("Hold until date" with the month spelled
out in Spanish) but nothing says that doing all
that will guarantee anything.
lista de correos addresses of a few major cities
along the Camino are:
Sarasate 9/31080 Pamplona (Navarra)
de Inmaculada 5/31200 Estella (Navarra)
Caldo 44/26080 Logroño (La Rioja)
Conde de Castro 1/09080 Burgos (Burgos)
de San Francisco s/n/24080 León (León)
General Vives 1/24400 Ponferrada (León)
Calvo Sotelo 183/27600 Sarria (Lugo)
17/15703 Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña)
will need your passport for identification when
retrieving your package.
a further question about mail service in Spain?
Link to the Correos de España web site (click on
"English" upper right corner).
the way, the information for poste restante service
in France can be found at the site for Discover
France (English). http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/DF_postal.shtml
for "General Delivery Service." We have
seen advisements against sending packages from France
(St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port for example) to lista de
correos in Spain. Apparently the two systems don't
recognize each other.
can I keep in contact with the people back home?
the problems that face the modern peregrino!
cafes do exist although they are not to be found
in every hamlet. Where they do exist, they are usually
It is also possible to rent a
cell phone or to purchase a cell phone in the U.S.
that can be converted for non-U.S. use with the
purchase of a different internal SIM card.
way to go is to simply purchase a phone card on
arrival in Spain.
The usual place to find an assortment
of these in Spain is in an estanco (tobacco shop).
Look for the yellow on brown sign. You will need
to find a (land-line) telephone to use this card,
but most bars seem to have a public telephone.
North America using these cards can be very reasonable.
if I don't speak Spanish (or French, or Portuguese,
or Basque, or … )?
Camino has for more than millennium been an international
phenomenon and it still is. Although English may
be the lingua franca in tourist areas, you will
be traveling for the most part through rural Spain
and you are going to encounter many people who speak
only Spanish or one of the regional languages like
Basque or Gallego.
Any Spanish skills you can carry
with you will be of use and your attempts will certainly
be appreciated—and your own experience will also
be that much more rewarding.
With other peregrinos
it is almost always possible to find some common
language or at least to set up an informal translation
chain. Here are several tips paraphrased from travel
guru Rick Steves on hurdling the language barrier:
Speak slowly, simply and politely: Speak with simple
words and pronounce every sound. Make single nouns
work as entire sentences and begin each request
with PLEASE (e.g. “Por favor, ¿el albergue?”)
Avoid using English slang and try to use internationally
understood words: Many Europeans will draw a blank
if you say 'break' or 'vacation,' but they will
understand when you say 'holiday.' If you say 'restroom'
or 'bathroom,' you will get no room, but 'toilet'
is direct, simple, and understood.
Exaggerate the local accent and use hand signals
and body language to communicate. Be uninhibited—self-consciousness
Take advantage of the similarities among the major
European languages. Four of the most common languages
on the Camino—Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese—are
related and come from Latin. The French word for
Monday (our “day of the moon”) is lundi (“lunar
day”). The Spaniards say the same thing—lunes. If
Buenos días means good day, sopa del día is soup
of the day. The other two common Camino languages—English
and German—are also related. Sonne is sun, so Sonntag
Use a notepad, because words and numbers are much
easier to understand when they are written. To communicate
something difficult and important (such as medical
or dietary instructions), write it in the local
language on your notepad. Or lacking that, write
it in English.
Rick (2010) Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back
Door 2010: The Travel Skills Handbook. Avalon Travel
of St James : Frequently Asked Questions
about keeping in touch ?
A BT Chargecard makes phoning home at regular intervals
extremely simple, and that's enough for many, who
positively welcome their escape from more sophisticated
methods of communication, and dislike the ever more
intrusive mobile phone.
But if you want to use email, for a list of cybercafés
and other places offering Internet services along
the Camino francés: http://www.intercom.es/mediaint/santiago/cibercafes.htm
Getting letters from home is nice, though. In France,
have people write to you Poste Restante, in Spain
Lista de Correos. In each case, they should put
your surname first, in capitals. When you go to
collect mail, take your passport as ID; and to be
sure, ask them to check under your first name as
well as your surname. Here's a list of places along
the Le Puy route and the Camino Francés, with postal
codes, 2 or three days apart, which you might like
to give to family and friends:
le Puy-en-Velay / 48120 St Alban-sur Limagnole /
48260 Nasbinals / 12190 Estaing / 12320 Conques
Figeac / 46160 Marcilhac-sur-Célé / 46000 Cahors
/ 82200 Moissac / 32700 Lectoure / 32100 Condom
Aire-sur-l'Adour / 64190 Navarrenx / 64220 St Jean
Pamplona (Navarra) / 31100 Puenta la Reina (Navarra)
/ 26080 Logroño (La Rioja) / 09080 Burgos /
León / 24700 Astorga (León) / 24400 Ponferrada (León)
/ 27600 Sarria (Lugo) /
Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña)*
2007) The main postoffice in Santiago has been under
repair for at least a year. The temporary office
is in Rúa das Orfas; the post code is 15703. Please,
someone, tell us when the main office opens again!
In France, you'll be charged €0.46 (i.e. the cost
of a standard stamp) per item that you collect from
Poste Restante. Collection in Spain is free.
Anyone willing to make similar lists for the other
routes and send them to us?
I try to learn some French and/or Spanish before
I set off ?
You'll get by without, and plenty of people do,
and though the lingua franca among the non-French
and non-Spanish pilgrims is English, don't expect
to meet many English-speaking Spaniards, pilgrim
or otherwise. Your enjoyment of France and Spain
and the people you meet will be greatly enhanced
if you can find the time to learn, as a minimum,
the rudiments of polite everyday exchanges. Similarly,
it helps to know what to ask for in shops and restaurants.
For emergencies of course it's even better to be
able to explain your
and to know what's going on around you. In any case,
the more language you have, the more you will enjoy
You can probably build on school French, and Spanish
isn't difficult, and you'll pick up a certain amount
as you go along: but time spent beforehand at an
evening class, or with a teach-yourself book, and
listening to French or Spanish radio or TV, will
be time very well spent.
We recommend the BBC Get By In ... (French, Spanish
etc) series - small slim books in 5 chapters, with
a single cassette, or the Talk ... (French, Spanish
etc) series, an expanded version of the above.
The Instituto Cervantes, 102 Eaton Square, London
SW1W 9AN (020 7245 0621) offers Spanish language
classes. Their website is www.londres.cervantes.es
Or how about a Spanish language course at the University
of Santiago itself? http://www.spanish-university.es/santiago-spanish-course.php
The Univesity also offers Spanish-language courses
which include a week on the Camino: http://www.csj.org.uk/tour-operators.htm#educ
in Touch with Home
W. Tripp, Jr. 2011
You can send mail home from any town or village.
Stamps can be purchased from the post office, which
are called Correos. They use yellow for the public
boxes and the signs indicating their location. As
in most countries, the postal system has a long
tradition of postal savings which has evolved into
a bank, and you will often find a bank associated
with the post office, indicated by Caja Postal.
This can be confusing to the unaware. Often you
may find it more convenient to buy stamps from an
If someone wishes to send mail to you and you do
not have a more definitive address, have them mail
it to you addressed care of the Lista de Correos
and the town. You can then collect the mail at the
main post office of that town.
Because of the increased use of cell phones throughout
Spain, public telephones are gradually disappearing
although they still exist. There are two types of
public telephones in Spain. Every bar, cafe, or
restaurant will have a green colored public telephone.
These phones require .50, 1 and 2 euro coins and
do not accept the telephone cards available at kiosks
or post offices. The telephones that accept telephone
cards are mounted vertically, normally in booths
(cabinas). They are operated by Telefonica, the
national telephone system. Such phones can be found
in busy public places like airports and shopping
centers and theaters or telephone booths in plazas.
They will have instructions in English on the phone.
Telephone cards (tarjetas de telefono) can be bought
at news kiosks and estancos (tobacconists). The
telephone cards can be used for international calls
or calling within Spain.
You can also use a US calling card to call the United
States. Be sure to obtain the overseas access numbers
of interest before you leave as you may have difficulty
finding them after your arrival. Your family should
understand that you may not be able to call them
at a specified hour because you may have to use
an outside phone and stand in line to use it. Even
if you have an internet based calling system such
as Skype, it may not always be available where you
will want to call from.
Having an 800 number at home will not work as a
way to stay in touch. US toll-free numbers are toll
free only when called from within the US and Canada.
Thus if you call an 800 number from Spain, it will
cost just as much as if it were a regular number.
Larger cities and towns will have “cybercafes” or
other commercial places where you can pay to access
the internet and check your email. Many albergues
will have computers with coin-operated access to
the internet. Cybercafes can be most easily found
by asking a student who will in many cases help
lead you to the place, practicing their English
in the process. To use a cybercafe to check your
email, you will need to have established a internet
browser mail account, such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail,
etc., before you left home. Even then, you can only
check the accounts for which you have set up the
internet account to access. If you plan to do this,
check everything out before you leave to make sure
you have completed all the steps.
If it is important to stay in touch, establish a
back-up account that is also set up to read mail
at your primary account. This is in case you have
a problem logging on to your primary account for
some reason. You have to be able to receive a message
from the system operator to address the problem.
Also ensure your address book is up to date.
Operating hours vary widely, from open 24 hours
to less than eight hours per day. Costs do vary
widely, from 1.50€/hour to 1€/half-hour. Some places
have a minimum and others only charge for the time
you are at the terminal. Some cybercafes may be
very noisy because of a students playing games over
the internet. Do not expect a smoke free environment.
Expect that the keyboards will be arranged differently
and the operating system and thus commands will
be in a foreign language.
The key combination for “@” is not shift-2 but alt-graphic-8.
à Q.Pratique Route